The Six Nations isn't too far away, and it's time for us to look into our crystal ball, and tell you exactly how things are going to go down in the European rugby tournament over the next two months, just as well as we did this time.
England To Win The Tournament
After the dreadful home World Cup and coaching change - the national side will benefit from the impressive form of their clubs to win the tournament in Eddie Jones first campaign leading to...
The English Media Will Fawn Over Eddie Jones
No one is more complimentary when things are going well than the British and Irish media. A championship winning season for Jones will be enough to get the media onside for him... for now.
Maro Itoje Should Be The Player Of The Tournament, But Voters Won't Pick Him
The Saracens lock is a freak of nature. The U20 World Cup winning captain is an absolute monster, and will continue to dominate at every level he has played at. He's about to show why he'll be a Lions test starter in 2017. Itoje will be the best player in the tournament, but at second row isn't a sexy enough pick for the top award which will go to England outside centre Elliott Daly.
Wales To Deny England The Grand Slam
After losing to Ireland in the first week, Warren Gatland's men have England's number yet again. It means that England will win the tournament on points difference over Wales and Ireland after hammering Italy, France, and Scotland.
Scotland To Finish Ahead Of France
Speaking of Scotland, they are improving under Vern Cotter and will finally live up to their dark horses tag. Scotland will be very competitive against Wales and Ireland, with both of those games being one score games. But they will definitely beat a declining France - who will be nothing like the wondrous offloading flair team of the 00's. Only Italy's incompetence will stop France from taking the wooden spoon.
Joe Schmidt Won't Be Seen As The Media Darling Anymore
Joe Schmidt is almost free from criticism at the moment, and he deserves it. Despite a second place finish in his third Six Nations, public opinion on Schmidt will start to turn. A lack of offloading, attractive rugby, or unwillingness to trust his young players will be the reasons for calls of dissention despite four wins from five. That and a persistence to play Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne away from their natural positions.
CJ Stander Will Have To Wait For His Debut
Part of the reason behind the change towards Schmidt is that Munster captain CJ Stander will not be trusted to make his debut. Rhys Ruddock will be the Irish blindside, and Jamie Heaslip the No. 8. Tommy O'Donnell and Chris Henry will share the bench duties leaving Stander to make his debut against the country of his birth.
Stuart McCloskey, Josh van der Flier, and Ultan Dillane will all also not play... yet.
Irish Rugby Emotions Will Wary Wildly From Week To Week
Proclamations of a Grand Slam after narrowly and unimpressively beating a bad France team will be shown to be premature when Ireland are taken apart at Twickenham to England. It won't be an embarrassing loss, but it will be obvious that Eddie Jones throughly out-thought and out-fought his opposite number.
Then again, the over-reactions to that loss WILL be embarrassing, because it's still obvious that this Ireland team aren't a bad side. But hey, we like to pretend we're riding on a rollercoaster so... why not?
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